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All across the globe this time of year people are preparing for festivities of all kinds with food, drink, family and general bonhomie foremost in mind. It’s also a time for a tradition that shows no sign of losing popularity - the New Year’s Resolution. A tempting tradition - the promise that old, undesired habits are swept away with the excitement and energy of the New Year. Our thoughts revolve around the turn of the calendar and infuse us with motivation to finally adopt or embody the lifestyle we do desire. Yet this rarely seems to work.
Alas, motivation and inspiration are often short-lived phenomena. Excitement wanes, real-life’s necessities and challenges take over. So predictable is this shift in energy that Big Box Gyms have made the NYR a cornerstone of their business model. They oversell 12-month contracts to new gym members then sit back and watch as the mass of once-eager exercisers thin out come the end of January due to injury, boredom or business whilst they still collect their monthly fees. You can almost hear Mr. Burns from The Simpsons cry “Excellent!” with an evil laugh.
Much of NYR model is based on the fact that most people enter into their resolutions with an all-or-nothing attitude. Often there’s little planning and the belief that inspiration will conquer the bumps along the way. People end up training way too hard without stocking the house with quality foods and are overly harsh on themselves when poor choices are made. There are a myriad ways to sabotage the resolution to a better lifestyle.
That being said, here are some simple ways to buck the trend and turn the New Year’s Resolution into a simple strategy for a sustainable lifestyle that embodies Restore Human’s approach to fitness: Longevity, Community, Methodology.
1. PREPARATION MEETS INSPIRATION
Whilst there is nothing wrong with being inspired if you use the time between Christmas and New Years to prepare you will have something to fall back on for those challenging days! Slowly begin stocking the pantry with vegetables, fruit, water, quality meats and fish. Get rid of the junk food! (Hey - if it’s there, you WILL eat it). Begin experimenting with stews and soups to build a strong variety of recipes and flavours for when January 1st rolls around. You don’t want to leave everything to the last minute, especially if you aren’t well versed in cooking. Drinking plenty of water after the eggnog bonanza will also help with energy and mental clarity! As with preparing for physical training, build a small base of movement over the week and gradually ramp things up rather than diving in cold turkey at an intensity and difficulty level that can’t be maintained.
2. KICKSTART HEALTHY HABITS
The gym can be a shock to the system for those who aren’t used to it or don’t know what to do there. The latest Men’s/Women’s Fitness workout is also unlikely to be sustainable for long. Instead, start a practice of taking a long walk, preferably in nature such as a park, an ocean-side or forest. The science around the concept of forest bathing (the energy and calmness we derive from trees) is compelling. It’s a perfect and simple way to embed healthful structure in your life.
A daily practice of joint circles is a great way to build long-lasting habits. Continually checking in helps maintain healthy ranges of motion. Lastly, over the holidays there can be a lot of sitting whilst enjoying time with the family. Take this opportunity to change posture frequently; sit on the floor, kneel, spend time in a resting squat if you have the capacity. There are a variety of positions you can adopt other than simply flopping on the couch!
3. COMMUNITY VERSUS GOING IT ALONE
We’re all familiar with the phrase ‘no man is an island’. This couldn’t better illustrate the gym around New Years. So many people create the habit of heading into soulless gyms with headphones rammed into their ears. This pattern only works for so long.One missed day very often becomes two which becomes “Oh, I’ll pick up again next week” and so on and so forth until we drift back to the same old routine we resolved to change in the first place!
Here’s where a group of friends can change the experience from the need to ‘get fit’ to active socializing. The drive transforms to spending time with fun, like-minded folk and the activity is incorporated into a greater context.
When you are feeling down and want to miss training, the chances of you sticking with the activity are so much stronger if you have a great group of friends who can pick you up and carry you through that time. You can return the favor for someone else experiencing the same challenges later! A large part of any successful structure is the group or community behind it - take advantage and power through the tough times!
4. SMALL STEPS FOR SUSTAINABILITY
If you vow to never again miss a training session it feels pretty Draconian by nature. Doing a positive thing every hour is much more tenable. If instead every hour you choose from the following list, for example; sip water, perform some light movement, walk around the house, engage in conversation, do 5 squats, dance to your favourite song - this breaks the day into chunks that are easily digested.
Adding in good behaviours works much better than making arbitrary rules that create resentment and tension!
5. SH*T HAPPENS
In addition to the last point, many people upon making one mistake throw in the towel and say ‘That’s it; I’m out!’ as though one poor meal choice or a missed day of training negates a week of good work. Once you’ve made a resolution to be healthy and happy over the long term, prepared well and are part of a thriving, energetic community it’s easier to accept and move forward from the blips that come your way.
Merely discuss what went wrong and don’t pretend it didn’t happen. Take ownership and the appropriate steps toward the next healthful choice and get back on the horse. Remember good health, friendships and happiness are for life, not just for Christmas!